Top 20 of 2016

Right, so now that it's June, and I have got my post about Hamilton out of the way (er, 5 months ago...) I am now free to talk about my top 20 tracks of 2016. Last year feels in some ways like a long, long time ago, because, as I'm sure anyone reading this will be acutely aware, the journey we as a nation and planet have all been on between 23rd June 2016 and today has been long and winding. It's sort of unbelievable that everything that has happened globally and personally has taken place in the space of one short year, but that's not what I'm here to talk about! I am here to list and maybe discuss the 20 tracks I liked the most of the tracks that were new to me in 2016. So here we go... (as ever, in no particular order)

1 | Good Grief - Bastille
Keen beans may notice that my blog is actually named after a line from my favourite Bastille song, and indeed one of the very first posts on here included how happy I was to have discovered this new band. They released their long-awaited second full studio album, Wild World in 2016, and it did not disappoint. This song came out when I was at a university reunion weekend, and I first listened to it on repeat for an hour on a long and very beautiful walk around all my old haunts. It's a really, really great song, and I sort of want it played at my funeral?

2 | Waving Through A Window - Dear Evan Hansen/Ben Platt
So, as you will know from my aforementioned Hamilton post, 2016 was a year of rediscovering my love of musicals in a big way. This included keeping an eye on up and coming musicals from Broadway (a.k.a. following Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter...). This new musical came into my periphery at some point in the year, and there were a few reasons it piqued my interest. Firstly, the musical director is Alex Lacamoire, the MD of Hamilton, so that's one thing. Secondly, Ben Platt, the lead, was adorable in the Pitch Perfects. Most important, though, is the fact that the songs are written by the songwriting team Pasek and Paul, who also previously wrote Edges, a song cycle that I saw that performed in 2014 at this cool post-show show in the lounge space at the theatre where The Book Of Mormon is on currently. The reasons behind my choice to go to that slightly bizarre event are kind of long-winded but basically I liked one of the actors who was going to be in it. I loved the songs in that (I'd say one of them is my all-time favourite musical theatre song) so I was really excited to hear more from the writers. This section has gone on far too long, but the point is, I'm not sure I've ever in my life heard a song that articulates my soul more than this song. Woah. (Side note - this song came out before the rest of the soundtrack, some some from the rest of the soundtrack may make the 2017 list!).

3 | Sorry - Justin Bieber
This is just a great, great song.

4 | Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) - K'naan, Snow The Product, Riz MC & Residente
This is from The Hamilton Mixtape, a collection of songs inspired by or cut from Hamilton as well as some covers by other artists. I'd highly recommend it, especially this bilingual epic.

5 | How Far I'll Go - Moana/Auli'i Cravalho
Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton (I know) wrote a bunch of songs for a Disney movie that came out in 2016 because apparently he wasn't busy enough. This is the 'I Want' song ('Part of Your World', 'Colors of the Wind', 'Let It Go') and it's wonderful.

6 | She Used To Be Mine - Sarah Bareilles
Another musical that came out in 2016 was Waitress, with songs written by singer-songwriter Sarah Bareilles. I am anxiously awaiting its transfer to the West End but until then we have both the lovely soundtrack and the album of songs from the show recorded by Bareilles. The first time I heard this song, I ended up a disgusting sobbing mess on my bed. It's a beautiful, sad, beautiful song.

7 | I Believe - The Book of Mormon/Andrew Rannells
I still haven't plucked up the courage (or funds!) to actually see this show yet, and I haven't listened to most of the soundtrack, because I sense it's the sort of thing best enjoyed fresh for the first time. That being said, this (which I discovered in a Tony Awards performances wormhole) might be the best video on all of YouTube and I love Andrew Rannells very much.

8 | Say You Won't Let Go - James Arthur
I was glad to see James Arthur's comeback last year, and this song really helped us all get through Ed Sheeran's Gap Year.

9 | What You Own - Rent/Anthony Rapp & Adam Pascal
Yeah, so I'm a little behind on discovering this amazing new musical Rent, but better late than never? This Ham4Ham video inspired me to get tickets to a really excellent 20th Anniversary production at the St James Theatre in December last year, and this song was the standout. There's something about the competing melodies I really love.

10 | Ivy - Frank Ocean
His new album finally came out, and I listened to it all summer!

11 | This Is What You Came For (feat. Rihanna) - Calvin Harris
Written (secretly!) by Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris back when they were the biggest couple in the world, this was the soundtrack of our genuinely idyllic late-summer trip to Center Parcs. It's got all the best bits of a Taylor Swift song, and Rihanna's excellent vocals and Calvin Harris's... y'know, production value. Cracking.

12 | Cheap Thrills (feat. Sean Paul) - Sia
Just extremely good fun.

13 | A Change of Heart - The 1975
I can't pretend I keep up with all the comings and going of the music the kids are into these days, but there was one time I had Radio 1 on, and this song instantly grabbed me. I think it's because it reminds me of this song, which I was very heavily into when I had just gone to university and emotions were running very high! I like the lyrics, I like the sound, I like this song a lot. And I listened to it on repeat for, realistically, far too long!

14 | Love Yourself - Justin Bieber
I was a late convert to his 2016 'comeback' (did he ever go anywhere?) but when I heard this at Christmas on my sister's album, I was hooked. It's so good! This also helped us get through Ed Sheeran's Gap Year by, in fact, being written by Ed Sheeran.

15 | When He Sees Me - Waitress/Kimiko Glenn, Jessie Mueller, Keala Settle & Ensemble
Another wonderful song from Waitress, about going on a blind date. It's funny, and sweet, and lovely.

16 | Congratulations - Dessa
A cover of a cut song from Hamilton, this is probably my favourite from the Mixtape. I can totally see why it was cut, but I almost wish it hadn't been. It's like discovering a new Hamilton song a year after I thought I'd already heard them all - such a gift! "You're the only enemy you ever seem to lose to" is basically the life of Alexander Hamilton in one line. (Alsoooo meeeee?)

17 | My Shot (feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess) [Rise Up Remix] - The Roots
I can't emphasise enough the extent to which the Hamilton soundtrack and associated things was all I listened to in 2016. Another from the Mixtape, this is a song that I think I would have loved even if it came out totally independently of anything else. It's an incredibly good song.

18 | I Am The One - Next To Normal/J Robert Spencer, Aaron Tveit & Alice Ripley
This is a song from a 2009 musical I discovered from another Tony Awards performance. It's a duet between a man and his son, who has been dead for years. It's a beautiful and moving song, from another musical which has yet to be produced in London - fingers crossed for 2018!

19 | I'm Here - The Color Purple/Cynthia Erivo
A powerhouse, Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy-winning performance by maybe the best singer I have ever had the immense privilege to see perform live.

20 | Warmth - Bastille
So, once Bastille's new album had come out, they announced their tour, which was making a stop in November in Manchester. My sister was at university there, and is an even bigger Bastille fan than me, and we managed to procure tickets to the show. It was an incredible experience; we were really close to the front in the standing section, dancing the night away to all our favourite songs, including this one. Bastille's album Wild World is the only music I have been aware of that genuinely seemed to be addressing the horribly uncertain times we are living in, especially this song...
"Nothing quite like seeing the world through the TV's window,
Feeling helpless I search for distraction."
"I can't stop thinking about it,
Tell me, did you see the news tonight?"
A wonderful song that reminds me of a wonderful night.

But yeah, a lot of musical theatre...